Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interesting Picture From a Forgotten Atrocity

The term "concentration camp" wasn't invented by the Nazis.  It was used to describe the camps that the British government used to "concentrate" Boer civilians during the Boer War, and that the Spanish government used to concentrate Cuban civilians during the war with the rebels in the 1890s.  In both cases, conditions were harsh--and in the case of the Boer War, apparently intentionally so, to destroy the will of the Boer men to keep fighting, knowing that their wives and children were locked up in disease-ridden settlements with insufficient food.

I do not know from my reading whether the Spanish concentration camps were intentionally death camps, but a student in my U.S. History class brought in an album of pictures from an ancestor who was apparently a general during the Spanish-American War and World War I.  This picture in particular was quite disturbing.  That's not cotton.

click to enlarge


  1. I gather that this photograph shows U.S. military personnel atop a mountain of bones that were the result of the Spanish concentration camps in Cuba a few years prior to the Spanish-American war. Is that correct?

    The photo is disturbing -- reminds me of photos of piles of buffalo skulls, with an obvious difference.

  2. It is often claimed that the Spanish-American War was whipped up by Hearst through his newspapers.

    Hearst was a factor, certainly. But Americans generally did not want to get involved in any foreign war, and the "business interests" and conservatives were very of an enterprise that could cost a lot of money and break valuable things.

    The turning point was when Sen. Redfield Proctor, a conservative Vermont Republican, came back from a trip to Cuba - and told his colleagues what he'd learned and seen. His reports of Spanish atrocities persuaded many previously reluctant Republican leaders that Something Must Be Done.